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CBS Entertainment Boss on New Brad Kern Investigation: ‘I Believe They Will Get to the Truth’

TCA 2018: ”I’m troubled and frustrated that reports continue to come out in the press,“ Kelly Kahl says

CBS Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl addressed the state of the studio’s most recent misconduct investigation into former “NCIS: New Orleans” showrunner Brad Kern, during his executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour Sunday.

“CBS Studios investigated Brad Kern in 2016,” Kahl told reporters. “Action was taken after that investigation and, you know, there have been no complaints since. I’m troubled and frustrated that reports continue to come out in the press. And because of that we’ve opened up another investigation with outside counsel. The goal of any investigation, internal or external, is to get to the truth, and I believe they will get to truth.”

Kern’s investigation wasn’t the only one Kahl fielded questions about this morning, following the accusations of sexual misconduct posed against CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves by six women in a New Yorker story last month.

“Leslie has been an excellent boss and mentor for a long time. And he put me in this job,” said Kahl. But he noted that “all allegations need to be and are being taken seriously.”

Kahl added that women in the upper ranks of the company have approached him “dismayed” by the allegations of sexual misconduct against Moonves, telling him, “this does not represent their experience at CBS.” 

In June, a CBS TV Studios rep told TheWrap Kern was under investigation for the third time at the studio, this time by outside counsel.

“The 2016 allegations concerning Mr. Kern were acted upon immediately with a thorough investigation and subsequent disciplinary action to address behavior and management issues,” CBS Television Studios said in a statement at the time.

“We have received no further complaints since this action was implemented,” the statement continued. “In addition, Mr. Kern agreed to step down from his leadership position as showrunner this season and transition to a consulting producer role. We now believe this matter merits further inquiry and therefore we have engaged outside counsel to review both the original investigation as well as the current situation.”

The new investigation comes as CBS Studios recently signed a new two-year deal with Kern, who will remain in a consulting role on “NCIS: New Orleans,” even after he was replaced as showrunner by Chris Silber in May.

“We were aware of these allegations when they took place in 2016, and took them very seriously,” CBS Television Studios said in a statement last year when the accusations against Kern first surfaced. “Both complaints were acted upon immediately with investigations and subsequent disciplinary action. While we were not able to corroborate all of the allegations, we took this action to address behavior and management style, and have received no further complaints since this was implemented.”

The studio’s investigation found that Kern had made “insensitive” and “offensive” comments to his co-workers — however, CBS concluded that there was no evidence of retaliation, harassment, discrimination or gender bias.

CBS mandated sensitivity training for Kern and assured his staff that “appropriate” action had been taken to address the issues.